Envious of SAHMs

Why one mother is envious of stay-at-home mothers.

Can Working and Stay-at-Home Moms Be Friends?
An EXCLUSIVE Betty Series


When Daddy gets to do the things that Mommy wants to do

-Jennifer Lubell

Last week we heard from one stay-at-home mom who didn’t understand why a mother would choose to go back to work. This week a working mom reveals her SAHM envy.

father and son readingThere were days last month that I didn’t get home from work until 7:15 p.m.

My 2-year-old’s bedtime is 7:30.

It used to be that Alex would wait eagerly at the window to watch me put my key in the door and I’d hear the high-pitched sound of a gleeful toddler yelling “Mommmeeeeee!!!” as I’d walk up the stairs to get a bone-crushing hug from two tiny arms.

Lately, as my work schedule has gotten more demanding, I’ve noticed that Alex doesn’t come charging through the living room to greet me anymore. He’s more likely to just look up at me like I’m a stranger, even though he still lets me give him his bath and put him to bed.

One night, when I offered to read him his favorite book, he plunked himself into my husband’s lap and insisted that Daddy read to him instead.

Ouch. That hurt.

But who can blame the little guy? My husband, a federal employee who works on a suburban campus with a fabulous child-care center, is the parent who drops him off and picks him up from day care every day. He’s the parent who gives Alex his dinner most nights and plays with him until I get home.

My work situation is quite different. My commute is longer, and the benefits aren’t as generous. As a reporter in Washington, D.C., I have daily deadlines that often keep me at the office long after most federal workers go home.

When Alex is sick, it’s Daddy – the guy with the unlimited leave time – who stays home with him.

I belong to a mom’s group that’s a fairly even mix of stay-at-home moms, part-time working moms and moms like me, who work the salt mines full-time. Of all the mommies in the group, it’s clear that I have the longest work hours and the LEAST amount of time to spend with my child.

I know, because when they all started talking excitedly about a local Halloween celebration, I knew I was the only one in the group that wouldn’t be able to make it. There was no way I’d be able to get out of work at 3 p.m. on a Friday to take Alex to the event. I didn’t relate this fact to them. Frankly, I was too ashamed.

One of the women in the group who’s a SAHM often says she misses going to work, that she yearned to read a book on the subway or eat lunch with two hands. As the working mom who gets to do that every day, I wondered if she knew how envious I was of her life. That her husband was able to support her so she could stay at home, that she never had to worry about her son forgetting who she was.

The night my son didn’t want me to read his book to him, I lay awake in bed, worried that my job was creating a permanent rift in our relationship.

Imagine my relief the next morning when Alex grabbed me by the hand after breakfast and insisted that I go downstairs with him to his playroom. We read about a million stories that day.

“See? He knows who his mommy is,” my husband said reassuringly.

Thank goodness for weekends.

Jennifer Lubell is a health-care reporter in Washington, D.C., and mom to Alex, her spirited 2-year-old.

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